A panoramic vision system, an eye tracker, and a 3-D model of a fetus
Kogoro Kurata, a Japanese designer and artist, shows off the robotic creation that he has dubbed Kuratas. The 4-metric-ton, 4-meter-tall machine can be piloted from the cockpit—where Kurata is perched—or remotely from an iPhone. The combative robot features a sensor system that locks onto a target before its twin Gatling guns together fire more than 6000 BB pellets per minute. This is no one-off project. Its creator says he plans to sell Kuratas for US $1.3 million.
Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images
Researchers at INRIA, the French public research center, recently revealed the first wearable gadget that gives humans eyes in the back of their heads. The helmet-mounted prototype, called FlyVIZ, increases the wearer’s field of view from 180 degrees to 360 degrees. The team developed a processing algorithm that transforms images captured by a panoramic video-camera system (the bit that sticks up from the crown of the helmet) so that the head-mounted display can show it all.
Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP/Getty Images
In late November, Chinese farmer Zhang Xuelin thought he had made enough modifications over the past 11 months to an old motorbike to make it fly. With much fanfare, he took to a main road in his hometown of Jinan that served as his runway. But after two hours, the would-be aircraft—to which he’d added wings and a plywood-and-plastic tail—never left the ground.
Photo: China Daily/Reuters
Nearly 30 years after the horrific explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power station, work aimed at encapsulating the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident continues. Shown here is a section of the 257-meter-long, 150-meter-wide structure that will eventually cover the reactor. The arch—which at its peak will reach 108 meters—is meant to contain Chernobyl’s radioactive emissions for the next 100 years.
Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images
Researchers from the Industrial Technology Center of Fukui prefecture, in Japan, have teamed up with a textile maker and a solar battery manufacturer to produce textile fabric interwoven with 1.2-millimeter-diameter solar-cell balls. The researchers say that solar fabric—which they aim to commercialize by 2015—will likely yield more energy than today’s flat solar panels, because the spherical balls will absorb sunlight from any direction.
Who says the church is behind the times? Pope Benedict XVI is shown here using an iPad to post a tweet on 12 December. By the time the octogenarian—whose Twitter handle is @pontifex—sent his first 140-character message, he’d already gained more than a million followers.
Photo: Osservatore Romano/Reuters
After more than a decade of indecision, FIFA, the international governing body of football, has finally made goal-line technology part of its World Cup matches. The GoalRef system alerts match officials when a ball fitted with flexible copper coils passes into a magnetic field generated inside the goal posts. On 6 December, the technology was used for a match between Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Auckland City at International Stadium Yokohama, in Japan.
Photo: Mike Hewitt/FIFA/Getty Images
This Sumatran orangutan, named Tsunami, is being fitted with an eye-tracking system at Malaysia’s National Zoo, in Kuala Lampur. Researchers from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus have been recording what Tsunami sees as well as her eye movements for the past 18 months in order to discover more about how the primate brain learns and makes predictions about its surroundings.
Photo: Bazuki Muhammad/Reuters
Want a permanent souvenir of your child’s gestation that’s better than a grainy sonogram image? Fasotec, a 3-D computer-aided-design company in Chiba, Japan, has just the thing: a white resin model of the fetus shown encased inside a clear resin model of its mommy’s belly. The memento is created by a 3-D printer using data provided by an MRI scan.
Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images
This image shows the opposite sides of the Clear Rayz electronic acne-fighting pod. The device, once available only to professionals, has been redesigned for home use. One side of the computer-mouse-size gadget has 40 LEDs that emit blue light at a wavelength of 415 nanometers; this wavelength has been shown to kill the bacteria that cause acne. On the other side are 40 red LEDs that emit light at a wavelength of 633 nm, which soothes inflammation so that breakouts heal faster.